The Goh Hock Guan Affair (2)

Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, when speaking to Negeri Sembilan State Sub-Committee and Negeri Sembilan branch representatives at 3, Wilkinson Street, Seremban on Tuesday, 20th June 1972 at 7.30 p.m.

The Goh Hock Guan Affair (2)

The past 22 months had been a very difficult period for the DAP, not only because of the very limiting and repressive political condition in the country, but also because of the threat to party discipline, morale, unity and image as posed and represented by Goh Hock Guan.

For this period, the party had to bear the cross of the innumerable follies, instability, fickle-mindedness, unpredictability and unbounded arrogance of Goh Hock Guan.

His statements, such as on the Internal Security Act and the Straits of Malacca openly violating party policy decisions, and his activities and conduct have continued to bring pain to friends and comrades and joy to opponents.

For the sake of old comradeship and party solidarity, my colleagues and I in the Central Executive Committee had tried over this period to try to get Hock Guan mend his ways, but they were all in vain.

One of the crosses which the DAP had to bear because of Goh Hock Guan had been the events on the so-called DAP-MCA secret talks in April 1971, when the MCA tried to get the DAP to withdraw from the Bekok by-election in Johore to allow the MCA a certain victory.

I will give briefly the chronological order of events.

In the first week of the Bekok by-election campaign, we were having a public rally in Bekok where Goh Hock Guan was scheduled to speak. I attended this rally but Hock Guan did not turn up.

When I went up to Kuala Lumpur after the rally, Hock Guan told me that he had met Lee San Choon and Tun Tan Siew Sin. I had no prior knowledge about this first meeting between Hock Guan and the MCA leaders.

However, before Hock Guan saw Siew Sin, he did ring up Dr. Chen Man Hin, Party Chairman, in Seremban saying that there was a suggestion of a meeting between him and Tun Tan, and Hock Guan asked Dr. Chen whether he would like to go along, Dr. Chen declined as he had to go down to Johore for the Bekok by-election campaign.

Hock Guan reported to Dr. Chen and me what transpired at his first meeting with Tun Tan and San Choon. Hock Guan said Tun Tan asked the DAP to withdraw from the Bekok by-election, dissolve the DAP, join the MCA and enter the Cabinet.

The idea that the DAP should dissolve and join the MCA was so unthinkable and abhorrent to our concepts of a multi-racial movement and policy, that both Dr. Chen and I rejected it.

But Hock Guan seemed rather keen, unhappy about terminating the discussion, and pressed for a more positive reply and asked on what grounds we would be prepared to have discussions.

Dr. Chen and I were of the view that there could only be discussions on the basis that the DAP is an integral political movement with no question of dissolution, and that the Alliance must declare publicly its acceptance in principle and practice the DAP’s Malaysian Malaysia policy to work for economic, political and cultural democracy.

Hock Guan was still keen, and said that if the Alliance were amenable, what Ministries should he ask for, and he mentioned something about the Ministry for Urban Development. Both Dr. Chen and I were skeptical about the whole affair as we were convinced that it would come to nought.

Hock Guan was to tell Tun Tan our rejection the next day. Hock Guan met Tun Tan the next evening, and had a third meeting the same night.

Both Dr. Chen and I knew nothing about third meeting. The day following, Hock Guan reported that Tun Tan was firm that the DAP should dissolve and join MCA.

For Dr. Chen and I, that was the end of the matter. Hock Guan seemed rather drawn by the idea, and he suggested that probably one of the DAP leaders should, with tacit party blessing, resign from the DAP and join the MCA, become a Minister, and see how effective he could be. Hock Guan suggested that probably Dr. Chen or Kit Siang should do this. It was obvious what Hock Guan was thinking about, and Dr. Chen and I scotched the idea by stonily ignoring it.

Neither Dr. Chen nor I knew exactly what transpired between Goh Hock Guan and the MCA leaders during the three meetings they have had.

The version given by the MCA concerning the talks raised a number of questions which Hock Guan could not clear away, but at that time, for the sake of party interest, we rallied behind him.

But from Hock Guan’s activities and conduct, it was clear that his commitment to the Party was no longer as unshakeable as before May 13, before he stepped down as Secretary-General in a time of crisis.

The disciplinary action against Goh Hock Guan had been a painful decision for my colleagues and I in the Central Executive committee, but if we had allowed personal sentiment to continue to blind us to the danger posed by Goh Hock Guan to party discipline, morale, unity and image, the Party will continue downwards towards greater disunity, indiscipline and in effectiveness.

Having learned a bitter lesson from the Goh Hock Guan affair, the Party Central Executive Committee is firmly resolved that there will be no repetition, and that no person, however, exalted his position or office, will be able to float party discipline and policy. The CEC will brook no breach of discipline, and will take swift action against any incipient indiscipline.

With the re-imposition of party discipline, and tightening of party morale and comradeship, we will start a new page where the DAP will regain its initiative and momentum – for the leadership is united, and our leaders and members have the resilience and conviction to survive whatever crisis.

Finally, I understand that Goh Hock Guan is denying that he had ever asked for top party positions, as Chairman, later on National Vice Chairman coupled with Chairman of Disciplinary Committee and International Secretary, demanded that the Party give him a Malaysian Malaysia medal to mark his signal contribution to the Party, as I related in the meeting of Selangor State Branches’ meeting. Yesterday, I advise Goh Hock Guan to stick to the truth, for if he should contest the veracity of my statement, I have documentary proof to let the country know the true facts.